Dad was rushed to the hospital around midnight Tuesday, after throwing up, then falling, hitting his head and being hauled away in an ambulance. That’s meant the bulk of this “vacation” to southern California has been spent at a hospital. The point of the trip WAS to spend time with my folks, but this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.
However, it did give us time to sit around and talk. It’s amazing the stories you can uncover, that you had never heard once before in his 87 years, just by hanging out. For example, back in his early days at United Airlines, dad was a fueler. It’s how he started back in 1947 for 1.65 an hour which at that time was good money.
So here’s how it happened. Dad said it was almost “High Noon”. I asked him who the star of that old western was, and he replied, “Gary Cooper. I met him once.” “What?” “Yeah, I had just fueled a flight to Denver and over in the ready area a guy asked me if that plane was heading to Denver. I replied, ‘Yep’ and after walking away, I realized it was Gary Cooper.”
He also met George Raft back in the day. But the biggest star on the tarmac was Jimmy Stewart, who filmed scenes from the 1957 movie, “Spirit of St. Louis” out there at LAX back when they needed an airport background.
Over the years, dad grabbed quite a few sports autographs for me. Like when the Lakers flew United, he had the likes of Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Gail Goodrich sign a 3X5 card. Truth be told, I was looking at those autographs one day that had been placed in a scrapbook and when I turned it over, there was another autograph: Lawrence Welk!
The stories you hear when you just take the time to sit down and talk. Sometimes it takes a fall to bring out the good ones.